brief reflections on ballet
Happy Friday! The idea for this piece started floating around in my head last fall. One night in late October, my ballet teacher announced that the school was seeking perspectives from adult students to feature in a blog post. That provided the push I needed to finally put my thoughts down on paper. (The web team wanted only excerpts, so just the last paragraph ended up being included on the ballet school's blog.)
Slipping my feet into canvas slippers acts like a quiet switch, shifting my mind into ballet mode. I perform a few simple stretches before class and feel calmer, more focused. I hear the lyrical opening bars of the piano, ease into the familiar motions of the first pliés, and the cares of the world fall away, at least for these 90 minutes.
I believe ballet works its magic in a variety of ways. One is surely the wonderful endorphin surge that accompanies any exercise. Others, however, seem pretty particular to ballet itself. Concentrating on the intricacies of a combination prevents you from dwelling on troubles outside the studio, whatever they might be. Jumping, turning, or trying a new step (while laughing at your own ineptitude) serves as an opportunity for whimsy and a chance to play, both rarities in adult life. And focusing on physical grace and lightness seems to cultivate those qualities internally, as well.
As much as I love ballet, I’m sometimes tempted after a long or frustrating day to stay home rather than venturing out to class, especially when it’s cold or rainy or snowy (or not uncommonly in Boston, all three). I’ve learned not to trust that feeling. No matter how tired my body or dispirited my mood, I can’t recall a single time that I didn’t leave class feeling better than when I came.
(photo by Lucía Sáenz, on Flickr)